It is my pleasure to introduce you to my friend, Marie Bostwick. Marie and I go way back, all the way to seventh grade at Lewis Junior High. My first boy-girl party was a Christmas party at Marie's in eighth grade where I ended up pitching pennies in the laundry room with a couple of boys and Sherry L.
Fast forward a couple of decades and I'm walking through B&N and see a book, Fields of Gold by Marie Bostwick. Well, how many Marie Bostwicks could there be? I turn it over and sure enough, it's my old friend. Of course, I bought it and loved it. Now I am also a fan of Marie's and so thrilled that I had a chance to get to know her all over again.
Welcome, Marie and onto the questions.
1)In junior high we were on the school paper together, yet in high school, you focused on drama and music, so I'm wondering when you returned to writing and what led you back?
I never left writing; I just left the newspaper. My heart was never in journalism. Why be constrained by facts when you can just make stuff up?
Back in high school I was interested in theater, in music, in writing, in fiber arts and actively engaged in all those pursuits. However, when it came to drama and music my activities were public. People didn't know what I was doing behind the scenes - like writing. Today, it is much the same except writing takes center stage and music, fiber arts, etc. is what I do privately. Though I began to write almost as soon as I could hold a pencil, at sixteen, seventeen, and even into my thirties, I didn't consider myself "a writer". It took years for me to realize that other people might be interested in what I wrote.
2) Pick a side: Plotter or pantser. And why it works for you.
Well, here is where I have to admit that I am a flip-flopper. (Guess that means I can never be elected to high public office. What a relief. And not just to me, I'm sure.)
My first novel, FIELDS OF GOLD, was the product of pure pantser-ism. However, that was the last novel I wrote without a deadline or contract. When I got "the call" and was contracted to write a second novel, I was informed that, in exchange for my advance, my publisher expected an outline - a pretty big one. At the time, this really bothered me. I was sure that using an outline would quash my creativity.
I was wrong.
Now, outlines are my friends. In fact, I think of them as a kind of security blanket, proof not just to my publisher but to myself that I really did have a good idea when I started out. And that's a good thing because when I get about two hundred pages into a novel, I panic and decide that I have no idea what I'm doing or where I'm going. Reviewing the outline helps get me back on track. That being said, my outlines almost always change as I am writing. Sometimes I even stop writing for several days and re-outline the whole book. It's a great antidote for writer's block. And cowardice.
3) You've incorporated your love of quilting with your writing, how did that come about?
People who've gotten to know me through my Cobbled Court novels, A SINGLE THREAD, A THREAD OF TRUTH, A THREAD SO THIN, and the soon-to-be released THREADING THE NEEDLE, know that the books are set in a small town in New England and the action centers around the Cobbled Court Quilt Shop. Because these books are women's fiction, quilts and quilting aren't as central to the plot as would be the case in pure craft fiction. Instead, they are the common thread that draws my very diverse characters together. Over the years, I have made great and lasting friendships through quilting so it made sense to me that a novel which focused on relationships between women would employ quilting as a means of fostering those relationships. Too, I like the metaphor. In quilting, as in life, we take the bits and pieces at hand, the scraps Providence provides, and try our best to patch them together in a life that is both beautiful and useful. It's a theme I find myself coming back to again and again so it just made sense to write about it.
4) Your current books are contemporary women's fiction, do you plan to return to historical novels?
I have no immediate plans to return to historical fiction but I'm reasonably young yet and still have a lot of ink in my pen. One day, I imagine I'll write another historical novel. I've got a couple of ideas floating around in my mind.
5) How long does it take you to write a book--from idea inception through 'the end' ?
I assume we're talking a full-length novel, not a novella. Well, best case would be a year. The actual writing and revising take me about that long. However, I can have the plot developing in my mind for years and years before I actually begin writing.
6) What is your favorite part of the writing process? Your least favorite?
My favorite part is getting the idea, that part where I'm SO excited about the story that I'm rushing around looking for a computer, or pen and paper, or lipstick and a cocktail napkin so I can take notes before the idea leaks out of my brain.
My least favorite part is what I term "the doldrums". That's the part, usually in the middle, where there is no wind in your sails and you just sit there, praying for a breath of inspiration, the bit where the story seems to be bogged down in drivel and you're sure no one will ever, ever want to read it and that the idea you had originally may, in fact, be complete rubbish. When this happens, I call my sister, who talks me off the ledge, and then my agent, who steers me back to the outline, often suggesting that this might be a good time to re-outline. She is generally right. (See question #2.)
7) Along your road to publication, what has been the biggest surprise?
That while writing is an art, it is also a business. I don't know what it was like in the old days but now, besides writing a terrific story, an author has to be good at promotion, marketing, and strategy. It's a pretty tall order for somebody who hasn't successfully balanced her checkbook since 1998.
8) Who do you like to read?
Gosh, I read a lot of everybody and probably as much non-fiction as fiction but the authors I return to again and again are Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Edith Wharton, Mary McCarthy, Betty Smith, and Carson McCullers.
9) Your book is coming out May 31, do you want to tell our readers a little bit about it?
Yes! THREADING THE NEEDLE is the fourth book in my Cobbled Court series and, as you said, it will be out on May 31. (Feel free to take a break here and go order it. Now is fine. I'll wait for you....) I go to a lot of effort to make sure readers will be able to understand everything that is happening no matter where they step into the series, so don't worry if you haven't read the previous Cobbled Court novels, you're not going to feel like you walked into the middle of the movie.
I'm not much good at elevator speeches so I'll just tell you what it says on my bookmarks...
Two estranged childhood friends are struggling as the economic downturn invades New Bern , Connecticut . Tessa Woodruff's herbal apothecary shop is in trouble, and so is her once-happy marriage. After fleeing New Bern twenty years ago, Madelyn Beecher is forced to return when her husband is convicted of running a Ponzi scheme. Her only hope is to turn the run-down cottage left to her by her grandmother into an inn.
To relieve the strain, Tessa signs up for a quilting class at the Cobbled Court Quilt Shop and rediscovers sisterhood -- and the one friend she thought would never forgive her. With the help of their fellow quilters, Tessa and Madelyn restore the cottage and their relationship, learning it's possible to start over, one stitch at a time...
You can find more details and a sample chapter on my website, www.mariebostwick.com. I am very excited about this book. My editor says it is the best thing I've ever written. Just between you and me, I think she might be right.
10) Desert island time: Who's with you, what are you eating, and what board game are you playing?
You didn't put a limit on the number of people I could bring so I'm bringing my entire immediate and extended family and about twenty-five of my dearest friends. I won't name names but they know who they are. It's going to be pretty crowded on my island.
As far as food, we're going to need lots and lots of organic fruits and vegetables and beans and brown rice and yogurt because I'm vegetarian from Monday through Friday. (Weird, I know, but it keeps the weight off and the cholesterol down.) But for Saturday night I think we're going to roast a pig, all night, over low heat, buried in a pit and covered with bananna leaves. Think luau. And we're going to need some dark chocolate because that is one of my major food groups. Peppermint ice cream would be nice too. Oh, I forgot to mention, we have a freezer on my island. And air conditioning. And hot showers. Heck, we've even got a Jacuzzi.
Well, I really like Risk but my family has never successfully completed that game without a fist fight breaking out. So, let's go with Scrabble. Hmmm. Except no one in my family will play Scrabble with me because they say I always win. (It isn't true.) Okay...Apples to Apples. I never heard of anyone getting into a fist fight playing that. And you can play with a crowd of people.Okay, just for the record, Apples to Apples is one of my go-to games. It's always enjoyable and you're right, nobody fights over it.
Thank you, Marie, for stopping by and visiting us today. It really was great getting to talk to you again. And dear blog readers, I urge you to check out her Cobbled Court series in a bookstore near you. Be watching on May 31 for the newest one, Threading the Needle.